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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published April 25 2013

Ex-UND player Kristo named to U.S. team

GRAND FORKS – Danny Kristo’s goal is to play in the NHL. Whether that happens next season with the Montreal Canadiens remains to be seen.

But Kristo will receive some valuable experience next month as the former University of North Dakota standout was named to the U.S. men’s national team on Thursday. The USA team, comprised mainly of NHL players, will compete in the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship scheduled May 3-19 in Helsinki and Stockholm.

USA Hockey announced the first 15 members of the team – 12 of them current NHL players.

“I thought there was a slight possibility to make the team,” Kristo said. “When I got the news I was relieved. I’m excited about getting an opportunity to play for your country. That’s always an honor.”

Kristo has previous experiences with USA Hockey.

A product of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, Kristo represented the United States at the IIHF Under-20 Championship (2010, 2009) and won a gold medal in 2010 in Saskatoon. He also helped lead the U.S. to first-place finishes at the 2008 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge and the 2008 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament.

“I’m excited to get the experience with the NHL players,” Kristo added. “I’m going in with an open mind and trying to learn as much as I can.”

After UND lost in the NCAA West Regional title game earlier this month, Kristo signed with Montreal and played nine games for the Hamilton Bulldogs – the Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate. He registered three assists.

“It was a tough situation going in there. They were last in the league,” Kristo said. “But in the nine games, I thought I adjusted as time went on.”

Kristo is back in Grand Forks, working out in preparation for the 2013 World Championship. Team USA’s first game is May 4 against Latvia.

NHL players on the Team USA roster include: Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay; Nick Bjugstad, Florida; Bobby Butler, Nashville; Chris Butler, Calgary; Matt Carle, Tampa Bay; Justin Faulk, Carolina; Matt Hunwick, Colorado; Jamie McBain, Carolina; Jeff Petry, Edmonton; Craig Smith, Nashville; Paul Stasny, Colorado; and Nate Thompson, Tampa Bay.

Joe Sacco, the Colorado Avalanche coach, will lead Team USA at the upcoming tournament.

The USA roster will expand after the NHL regular season concludes. NHL teams in the playoffs won’t have players on the USA roster.

Kristo was a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist this season. He ended his senior year as a first-team All American who scored 26 goals. He finished second in the country in points with 52.

“My goal is to make the Montreal roster next year and play in the NHL,” Kristo said.

Nelson is the sports editor of the Grand Forks Herald